Grading the Blues forwards - Part 3 -

Grading the Blues forwards - Part 3

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CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 13: B.J. Crombeen #26 of the St. Louis Blues fights with Jamal Mayers #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) By Jonathan Daniel CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 13: B.J. Crombeen #26 of the St. Louis Blues fights with Jamal Mayers #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) By Jonathan Daniel

(HockeyStL) -- Grading the forwards part three

Vladimir Sobotka

The 24 year old center did not put up the kind of stats he did a season ago, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t as effective. Sobotka was relied upon to assume a role as an energizer, and a physical body playing bottom six minutes. A year ago he produced more because he had a role that wasn’t as suiting, but necessary due to the Blues lack of producers. This season Sobotka was a dominant force. He was hard to move off the puck, he delivered bone-crunching hits, and he played valuable minutes on the penalty kill. Sobotka still managed to accumulate 20 points with 5 goals and 15 assists, but his +12 rating was among the team’s best. Sobotka won 56% of the faceoffs he took which was valuable to the Blues in various aspects of the game. Sobotka knew his role on the team and did what was expected of him, and still found ways to go above and beyond to make his teammates even better.

Final grade: B

Matt D’Agostini

Acquired in the 2009-10 season, the 25 year old winger has been credited with the hardest and most deadly shot on the team by many players. D’Agostini was one of the Blues’ most consistent players a season ago, and it was exciting to think what he could do as he matured. Fans were hoping this season would be a step up from his 46 point 2010-11 season but instead it was a step back. D’Agostini was one of several Blues players sidelined with concussion-related symptoms this season. D’Agostini returned late in the year but was in and out of the lineup trying to find his footing. D’Agostini did play in 55 regular season games this year, but had only 9 goals and 9 assists during that tenure. It is hard to grade D’Agostini because he’s not a player that will make or break a game normally, and his relevance is hard to judge at times. D’Agostini could have possibly had another 20 goal season had he not been injured, but it’s hard to believe he was playing consistently enough to reach that quota. It was an average season for D’Agostini, but keep in mind he is not a seasoned NHL player yet, and still has some maturing to do.

Final grade: C

Ryan Reaves

The Blues were very pleased with Ryan Reaves’ play this season. They chose to give him a two-year contract extension in January signifying that they were pleased with what he was bringing to the table, and they know how important he is to their team. Reaves is not a guy relied upon to score goals, or to make that incredible pass that leads to a breakout. He is relied upon to give the Blues energy, and to strike fear into the other team’s players. Reaves had 171 hits this season, trailing the team leading 226 hits attributed to David Backes. Reaves did end the season with 3 goals and 1 assist, which is not terrible considering that enforcers are not normally all that talented in areas outside of physicality. Reaves did provide some offensive skill, and was a part of the Blues’ fourth line that head coach Ken Hitchcock named the best line.

Final grade: B-

B.J. Crombeen

Also considered an enforcer, B.J. Crombeen often found himself battling with Ryan Reaves for playing time. It is important to note that Crombeen’s worth is more than just what you see on the ice, as he is a very important voice in the locker room. While he may still be young, Crombeen often lightens the mood in the locker room which can dramatically change the momentum of the game. This being said, Crombeen’s performance on the ice was lacking. He only played in 40 games this season, mostly due to being injured for the first part of the season, but also because his play was inferior to that of Ryan Reaves. Crombeen netted only 1 goal and registered only 2 assists this season, and was also lacking in the physical area of his game. Crombeen tried to produce more offensively this year and as a result his physical game declined. Crombeen’s job is to turn the tide of the game by stealing away the other team’s momentum by delivering bone-crunching hits, and playing energetically. Unlike Reaves, Crombeen was not as effective as he needed to be this season.

Final grade: C

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